Comics Creators

Who draws the definitive version of *that* character?


Yo. Long time no see.

So who draws the definitive version of that character you like? The one version you personally see as the standard, and every other artist is just taking liberties with?

Don’t be shy-- I’ll start:

  1. Wolverine - Adam Kubert. In the 90’s when I was first exposed to comics, I worshiped at Jim Lee’s feet. But he went away sadly, and his arguably perfect Wolverine came to be replaced by a version that felt angrier, much more feral, just fit the character’s persona that much better (IMHO). Adam’s Wolverine is still that savage beast I learned to love.

  2. Iron Man - Adi Granov. I don’t know what I can say that is not already known, a drawing more appropriate for pre-production engineering design than for a comic book illustration. Mechanically precise, practical, and the foundation of everything (I think?) we have seen on the screen since IM1.

  3. Captain America - Bryan Hitch. The Ultimates’ depiction by Hitch brought a character from the darkness of a “oh yeah, that guy with the pirate boots” to a “fucking A for America”. The military-infused streamlined version ended decades of irrelevance and (along with Mark’s modern iteration of his persona) made him, finally, cool.

  4. Magneto - Jim Lee. That brief, shining 90’s run, and big helmet head front and center. I never felt him any more menacing and grand than in those few issues. I like Andy Kubert’s a close second.

  5. Batman - John Cassaday. OK, super picky choice, but, remember this one scene from Warren Ellis’ standalone Planetary/Batman: Night on Earth? I could have read 10 hardbacks on a Ellis’ driven, Cassaday-drawn gritty, dark-humored, unforgiving, oversized version of Frank Miller’s own derivative.

OK, you go now.


Blue, Gold, Fire and Ice - Kevin Maguire. They’re characters that need character, what their face is doing in each panel is more important than what they’re doing. It’s what makes them work and Kevin is a master at faces - not that many artists are as good.

Punisher - Steve Dillon. Not just for his body of work, I think the grounded approach he takes to his art (where anyone in superhero costume looks silly, like a person dressed up) works for Punisher type stories.

Hulk - Dale Keown. Nostalgia kicking in probably, but I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed the look of Hulk better than with Keown.


Judge Dredd - Brian Bolland. Unfortunately I haven’t read a whole lot of Dredd yet, but Brian Bolland’s Dredd will be forever what I envision when I think Dredd.


Bolland is good (and that’s an understatement) but I’d have to go with Carlos Ezquerra. Bolland is the definitive Judge Death artist though.


Wolverine - John Byrne or Paul Smith
Punisher - Steve Dillon
Daredevil - Frank Miller
Elektra - Bill Sienkiewicz
Batman - Marshall Rogers but my favorite is Kelley Jones
Nightcrawler - Dave Cockrum
Storm - Paul Smith
Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan) - Adrian Alphona
Iron Fist - David Aja


Spider-Man: John Romita Sr.


Streaky the Supercat - Jim Mooney.

Sorry, Swan fans, but this is a case where he just didn’t get it.

Swan’s Streaky:

Mooney’s Streaky:

No contest.


Noel! Good to see ya!

I know Bryan and Frank and all will understand.
My favorite Superman is Curt Swan.
Preferably inked by Neal Adams.
Or Neal Adams.
Inked by Murphy Anderson.
Or Murphy Anderson.
Inked by Curt Swan.

I don’t care. Throw Neal, Murph and Curt in there, ya get yer Superman, right there!


Scarlet Witch - George Perez. I read something a while ago saying that George Perez is a terrible costume designer, because he always comes up with things that no-one else can (be bothered to) draw, which is a very negative but actually kinda valid way of looking at it. Anyway, his very gypsy infused redesign of Wanda fits squarely into that category - it’s a fantastic design, the best Wanda’s had imo, but no-one else can pull it off.


I think often it’s the one from your childhood because it’s imprinted on you that way. That said, sometimes people just come along and do it better. For me…

Superman: Swan, but Ross might be even better. Garcia Lopez only other artist alive who nails it 100%.
Batman: Dave Mazzucelli. None of his impersonators even done it quite so cool.
Wonder Woman: Adam Hughes has a great sense of joy and colour as well as getting her perfectly.
The Flash: I think Alan Davis gets the fluidity very well.
Teen Titans: Perz

Other main DC superhero characters I have to say have never really had definitive runs or looks. There’s no GL or Aquaman book I can hand over to a newbie friend and say this is how they should be done. Which is weird, but true. There’s a couple of Superman and a dozen Batman, but not much else. Same with Marvel of course as the stories tend to be part of something bigger.

Wolverine: Frank Miller
Spider-Man: Romita Snr
Cap: Jack Kirby
Thor: Esad Ribic (first time I’ve ever really loved a Thor book)

Iron Man I weirdly never think has had his iconic run yet. Demon in a Bottle is a great story, but again there’s no trade I can hold or art I can think of where he looks especially iconic. I like George Perez’s Iron Man and Hitchy’s very good too from Ultimates.

X-Men: Adam Hughes. Mutation best when pretty as it’s such an ugly idea. Byrne and Claremont got this.
Daredevil: Miller or Romita Jr
Hulk: Sal Buscema, I think. It’s just the image I have when I think of the Hulk.
Silver Surfer: John Buscema.

It’s very interesting how few characters have self-contained, definitive books at either company. Superman Red Son is the biggest selling Superman trade ever and Civil War and Old Man Logan Marvel’s number one and two and I think it’s because I did short runs on them all. You get a beginning, a middle and an end. Maybe that’s the secret of an evergreen!



Did you ever read the Ellis/Granov Extremis arc, Mark? It’s a nice little self-contained story that freshens up the character nicely for the modern day, and the art makes him look straight out of the movies (as Granov’s designs were the basis for the film version).

I think it’s Iron Man’s best standalone story.


It’s weird that Iron Man’s movie success has never had conductive effect on comic sales in the decade or so that the movies have been around, despite some good runs. Iron Man quite untouched by that 2000 Marvel revolution and never got the sales boost Hulk and Cap and Spidey all got when Joe Q became EIC.

I don’t know why because a movie usually means a very nice jolt, especially in the movie promo window and when the first trailers come along. Is there just too much in the way of comics to movie product now? Did the DD show boost sales on the DD comic?



Thing is, they are very different prospects.

A movie has a beginning, middle and end, and all the characters are self contained.
Try finding that in a comic of the last 40 years. Comics have, at least since the time of Stan Lee, been constructed more like soaps. There’s always plot threads a new reader won’t know anything about, characters with motivations they have no information on, and a story that doesn’t resolve neatly. I think there’s a reason the most reliable selling trades for me over the last 30 years are:

Watchmen (self contained)
Dark Knight Returns (the “end” story of a character everyone knows)
Batman Year One: (origin story)
Daredevil: Born Again (This breaks the mold I’m trying to make a little, but again, there’s a self contained structure to the story. It has a definite beginning, middle and end)

I’ve sold more of those four trades over the last 30 years than any others. Very little comes close (maybe Sandman, Walking Dead).

The only other Marvel ones that come to mind are Old Man Logan, Civil War and the first JMS Spider-Man arc with Morlun. Again, self contained stories, for the most part.

If Marvel/DC really want to capitalise on their movie successes, they REALLY need more self contained stories that stay in print (Marvel especially are AWFUL at keeping things in print)


Jim O and I had this very conversation a few weeks back. It’s really odd that there isn’t a definitive story for each character. Not an origin story. Just a great collection you can hand to a newbie, especially when a movie comes out.



I would say Armor Wars (Stark Wars) fits the bill for that for Iron Man, complicated slightly by him being in his silver centurion armour for most of it,


What era was that?



I’m glad that you said this because I agree. Those four issues really are definitive for the character.

This is really interesting. Does this mean that they should all look beautiful to highlight the bigotry that they face? Or is it to give the characters a mainstream appeal?


I don’t know if it would be considered disrespectful, but how about taking a well loved story and “repackaging” it (modernize the writing and art, make it more movie-newbie friendly)

Armor Wars is pretty good, I haven’t read it in a while. I can’t remember how self contained it is.

Maybe get someone like McNiven to redraw it, Maybe Mark to do a bit of a “screenplay” treatment to it? (remove extraneous characters and plot threads)?

I’m not sure myself how I feel about suggesting it actually, as it does seem a bit rude to rework something someone else has done, but maybe if the original creators give it their blessing it could happen? I know there’s the potential loss of earnings to them, so maybe I’ve just talked myself out of the idea :slight_smile:


Armor Wars is '87-'88. Issues #225-231.


It’s always bothered me that Marvel dont market with some eye to their cinematic success in terms of trades.

I mean, Civil War just came out and we didnt get a prestige format or a directors cut or some kind of luxury version marketed in a way that fans and non fans alike would have looked to buy.

Instead, they cashed in on it by doing Civil War II, which … opinions may differ … but just isn’t as good and feels like a cash-in. Marvel are so obsessed with marketing new properties that they completely overlook doing anything legitimate with the old.